It was a year before Kristi Slack realized the guy living next to her in Pikeville, Tennessee, (the guy she knew as Stuart, husband to Lorraine) was actually Adam Ant, flamboyant English new wave/MTV video star and leader of Adam and the Ants.
To Slack, they were simply the Goddards, a nice couple with English accents who lived two doors down on Dayton Mountain.
The band was popular in the late '70s and '80s for their catchy New Wave pop songs. Their videos, featuring the band in pirate gear, scarves and war paint, became staples on MTV. Albums like "Dirk Wears White Sox," "Kings of the Wild Frontier" and "Prince Charming" produced hits such as "Antmusic," "Ant Rap" and "Stand and Deliver." A solo career produced the No. 1 UK hit "Goody Two Shoes."
He also had an acting career, appearing in more than two dozen television shows and films, including "Last Action Hero" with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Slack, in fact, didn't figure out the Goddards' alter-ego. Her sister, Suzi Sears, did, probably because she'd had a poster bearing an image of the star in scarves and war paint on his face on her wall all through middle school. She recognized him straight away, Slack said.
About a year after befriending the Goddards, Slack and husband Bill were hosting a cookout for her visiting sister from Florida and had invited her neighbors.
"We were standing in the driveway when they came walking up," Slack remembers. "My sister grabbed my arm and said, 'Do you know who that is?'
"Yes, it's Stuart and Lorraine and stop acting so crazy."
Sears took her sister into the kitchen and told her that her neighbor was none other than Adam Ant. Slack said she told her not to embarrass them, or her, because they were neighbors, and nice people.
A few days later, Slack said she broached the subject with Lorraine Goddard, who simply said, "Well, it only took you a year."
The subject had never come up, even though the two women, who were both pregnant, talked every day and were close. So close, in fact, that Slack is the godmother to the Goddards' daughter, and close enough that after the Goddards moved away and divorced in 2002, Lorraine visited in 2006 and asked Slack to keep some of their stuff, which had been in a Chattanooga rental storage unit for some time.
"She didn't want to keep paying for storage," Slack said.
Slack gladly retrieved the stuff, unaware that it would entail almost two dozen boxes and tubs full of items such as demo tapes, newspaper clippings and composition notebooks and photographs. Some of the bins also contained clothing, some of which was damaged and thrown out. A few items went to the Smithsonian for a display of '80s pop stars.
Slack said she was happy to help her friend, but has been ready to get her basement space back after almost 15 years.
That has been taken care of in just the last two weeks after she contacted local radio host Jeff Styles, who put together a "Storyville" podcast and interviewed her (along with this reporter) about the couple's time here and the nearly 14 large rubber bins. The video podcast was seen by Ant's representatives in the United Kingdom, who contacted Ant and his ex-wife, who reached out to Slack to make arrangements to retrieve the boxes.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Slack says the couple ended up in Pikeville back in 1996 because of a desire to visit Graceland in Memphis, an inability to read a map, a Cracker Barrel in Chattanooga and a beautiful cabin on Dayton Mountain.
"They flew to Atlanta, rented a car and ended up at a Cracker Barrel in Chattanooga and found an A-frame cabin in Pikeville in a HomeFinder magazine and decided to check it out ... on their way to Memphis."
They bought the house and never made it to Memphis, staying in the area for a little over two-and-a-half years.
According to Slack, the couple said they liked the anonymity, the beauty, the space and the people.
"He loved going to the Walmart and just wandering around," she said.
Goddard also seemed to like the historical aspects of the area.
"He came into my office one day and he said they had wanted to visit several states and see Graceland," said Rhea County's then-executive, Billy Ray Patton.
"I took him down through the historical museum and he was fascinated with that too. He had a great personality. I had no idea who he was until later.
"A few days later, he came in and asked if I would perform a wedding. I never will forget it. They wanted to get married in the main courtroom. She looked like a high fashion model."
Patton performed the ceremony in the courtroom on June 27, 1997, with courthouse spectators peeking around corners and through cracked doors, Patton said. Adam and the Ants band member and friend Marco Pirroni attended.
"It was a beautiful wedding," Patton said. "They had it all planned out pretty well."
Patton, 76, later became mayor of Spring City, Tennessee, and called performing the wedding "my biggest claim to fame."
"I pretty much grew up with Adam Ant. I enjoyed talking to him."
Stuart Goddard also became good friends with Slack's father, Ron Barker.
"He loved my dad, who could fix anything," Slack said. "Stuart couldn't fix anything."
Prior to this week, when contacted about the return of the stuff, Slack said she had not been in contact with Lorraine but a couple of times since her visit in 2006 and has not talked to Stuart in many years. Her sister did talk to the star after a performance he did in Tampa in 2018.
For Slack, the whole experience makes for a good story, though it's one she readily admits means more to fans of the singer than to her.
"She was my friend and they were nice people," she said. "I never knew or thought of him as Adam Ant."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.